Is Methadone Maintenance Right for Me?
First developed in the early 1960s, methadone maintenance treatment works to reduce drug cravings and withdrawal effects in recovering opiate addicts. Though methadone is itself an opiate-based medication, its long lasting effects and low addiction potential make for an effective form of replacement therapy treatment for opiate addictions.
As with any treatment medication, methadone does carry certain side effects that may become more troublesome the longer a person receives methadone maintenance treatments. Some of these side effects include:
- Reduced sexual desire and functioning
Methadone maintenance works by occupying the body’s opiate cell-receptor sites. This in turn reduces a person’s cravings for opiates while warding off opiate withdrawal effects. The effects of the drug enable recovering addicts to participate in treatment while abstaining from further opiate abuse. Depending on the severity of a person’s addiction, methadone maintenance treatments may be administered on a long-term basis or for as long as opiate cravings persist.
With a 30+ year history as an effective treatment for opiate addictions, methadone maintenance offers a range of benefits that help to keep recovering addicts in recovery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of these benefits include:
- Improves a person’s ability to maintain employment
- Improved family stability
- Enables pregnant women to carry to term
- Reduced risk of opiate overdose
- Reduced mortality rate compared to people not receiving methadone maintenance treatment
Compared to the withdrawal effects caused by heroin, morphine and other opiate-based addictions, methadone maintenance treatment makes it possible for recovering addicts to regain control of their lives while engaged in the treatment process.
Equally important is methadone’s role in preventing relapse episodes. With any opiate-related treatment process, the risk of relapse is always a concern. Relapse episodes greatly increase the likelihood of drug overdose, especially in cases where a person hasn’t used for a while. Opiate-related overdose incidents carry a high risk of respiratory failure and fatality. Methadone’s ability to reduce drug cravings goes a long way towards decreasing the potential for relapse and overdose incidents.
With most methadone maintenance programs, participants receive a daily dose of the drug from a treatment clinic. Methadone is fairly inexpensive so many programs can offer sliding-fee scale payment options.
While methadone does provide a range of benefits for recovering opiate addicts, methadone is nonetheless an opiate-based medication. This means, methadone maintenance treatments basically use one opiate in the place of another to treat drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. For people with a high tendency towards addiction, it’s not uncommon for a person to become addicted to methadone to the point where additional drug treatment is needed to treat a newly formed methadone addiction.
Depending on the severity of an opiate addiction, some people may not be able to make it through detox, let alone maintain abstinence, without the help of methadone. That being so, anyone wanting to be completely free of opiate dependence may want to consider the risks involved with entering a methadone maintenance treatment program.